The Importance of a Pitch Deck


A pitch deck tells the story of your business.  I have read enough pitch decks at this point that I should be able to open one and by page 3 if not 2 get the basis of the business.  When I get decks that are over 12 pages I find them hard to finish.  It should be bold and to the point.  Even 12 pages should not take very long to read.

I always stress the importance of redoing your deck several times.  It is no different than writing your business plan.  Putting information down on some kind of format makes it clear to you what is rambling around your brain is clear to others.  It is an opportunity for possible investors or even senior hires to get excited.  There should be room for conversation.  Once I read a great deck that pulls me in I want to ask a bunch of questions.  I do not want to know everything from that quick read.

A particular deck came through my box from three separate sources.  Total reaction from me was no.  They all praised the entrepreneurs behind the company.  I ended up meeting them at an event and when I heard what they were doing I decided to meet with them.  Their deck did not reflect their business.  BTW, neither does the name of their company which is incredibly important too.

I have one entrepreneur that I am invested in who told me that a VC said he could not invest in them because of another investment that they had which was a competitor.  That other investment was a totally different business that was not even in the same ballpark.  Made me wonder about the pitch and the deck.

Take decks seriously.  The deck can be your first foot in the door.  They can help you hone in on the message.  If it takes you more than 10/12 pages to tell the story then go back to the drawing board because you are missing out on the point.

Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    Yup, And don’t worry about the numbers being right-just make sure the percentages are right. They always look about the same anyway-and good investors will run their own numbers.

    1. awaldstein

      Early stage–numbers are aspirational. Understanding is what we all strive for more that estimates. X% or some market is always kinda BS.

    2. Gotham Gal


  2. awaldstein

    I’m all about knowing clearly what you are about.Writing a deck now for a personal project and raise and the biggest decision point is how self explanatory it is. I hate decks that are bullet points but representations that don’t stand wiithout explanation are as much a fail.Honestly, they are never done till the raise is.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Love the redesign. So elegant. Brava.As for decks, you’re spot on, as the Brits like to say.I’m reminded of Guy Kawasaki’s advice: 10/20/3010 Slides20 Minutes (seems long nowadays ;-)30 pt Size Font…

    1. Gotham Gal

      that is great. i like that rule.

  4. Tom Labus

    New blog layout is lookin’ good

  5. chaya

    an example of a deck that really ‘rocked your boat’ would be gr8!johannesburg, south africa

  6. Jay Melone

    How often have you stopped a pitch because the deck is a mess or unbearable to look at?

    1. Gotham Gal

      I rarely look at a deck when someone is pitching me because they wouldn’t be there if I didn’t have an interest in the biz. Shutting a deck b/c it is an absolutely mess and not understandable well that I have done countless times.

  7. kristinyac

    What’s the opinion on an appendix? Should that level of detail be saved for a 2nd meeting or included after the 10-12 main slides?

    1. Gotham Gal

      on appendix. if you have 10 slides there is zero reason for one.

  8. Jessie Arora

    Love the redesign! And great advice in this post. +1 @disqus_nTYFKvz4Cb:disqus’s comment– Please share a couple examples of decks that missed the mark and ones that really impressed you.

  9. Anthony Serina

    I can think of a lot of companies that are successful where there name doesn’t have much or anything to do with their business. I feel like half of businesses are named after people that don’t even work there anymore.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Agree but sometimes the name is a disconnect from what they actually do

  10. Lally Rementilla

    Your site redesign has finally given me the kick to get one done. Awesome and high impact – just like its subject. Plus the post is an appropriate for the streamlined design.

    1. Gotham Gal

      thanks lally

  11. sigmaalgebra

    It’s easy to make a deck or document short — just leave out a lot of stuff. Or, maybe a little better, just leave the high points.A major problem with a short deck is, if the business is potentially quite good, then people won’t take the promise seriously and, instead, will just ignore the deck. That is, people will think, “What are the chances that a start up could achieve so much? Low. So, toss the deck into the bit bucket.”.So, a reason to include more detail is to provide enough evidence to take the promise seriously. Then a short deck typically omits such details and is not taken seriously.If pitching a lemonade stand, then, sure, can get nearly all the important points into a short deck; another case is a ‘this for that’ business; for a serious business, not so much. That all businesses are really simple is just not true, and short decks tend to eliminate the very businesses that should be of greatest interest.Yes, on average, businesses are fairly simple; so on average decks should be short. But the businesses of greatest interest are quite exceptional and not average at all.Yes, short decks ease the task of reading 100 decks, discarding 99, and paying more attention to one, likely still a not very promising business, that can have a serious description in a short deck.

    1. Jay Melone

      And now we know why your decks are not short 8)

      1. sigmaalgebra

        My post didn’t mention my own work.But I’ve seen decks as short as 350 words get ignored.The problem is, too short to be believed or too long to beread.Broadly insisting so strongly on short decks is riskyfor all concerned.

  12. andrewghayes

    Loving the new design!Do you have a pitch deck template you recommend as a starter?

    1. Gotham Gal

      i really do not. few suggestions. i personally like to see it clearly stated what the company does from the get go. then go into data and financials (not heavy but clearly stated), the competitors (if any and there always are) and then the team

    2. Jay Melone

      Have a few I can share, Andy. Connect on Twitter and I’ll shoot them over.